David Drozek, D.O. (’83)
Assistant Professor of Surgery,
Department of Specialty Medicine
Interview by Susie Shutts
As an undergrad,
David Drozek, D.O. (’83), traveled to Chad to volunteer
at a mission hospital. The experience has shaped his medical
career: he worked for seven years as a medical missionary in
Honduras – where he will lead OU-HCOM’s first international
surgery rotation this November. In the meantime, in April,
he will accompany a group of OU-HCOM students to set up
clinics in Ecuador, and in June, he will oversee clinical
rotations in El Salvador.
As co-advisor of the OU-HCOM
chapter of the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA),
name one important topic you cover.
After training, physicians have
up to $150,000 in debt, and then they get a nice salary. The
tendency is to live up to their salary, and then they’re
stuck in debt. They start to see patients as dollar signs.
My encouragement to students is to live below their means.
Make sure they have extra income and time to do mission
trips, volunteer and take patients who don’t have insurance.
In one of your CMDA web site
posts, you advocate “medicine as ministry – not means to
ministry.” Can you explain that?
You can separate your practice
from ministry and say, “Ok, this is my business. I make
money here, and then I spend it on a trip to Honduras.” What
I’m encouraging is for students to see their practice not as
a business but as an opportunity to serve – especially here
in Southeastern Ohio.
You advise volunteers who want
to brings gifts for Honduran children to bring school
supplies – in effort to avoid a “welfare mentality,” as you
call it. Could you explain that?
Everybody looks like they’re in
need from the North American perspective, but there are
people with greater needs. In my experience, North American
visitors tend to give indiscriminately and freely. After
this goes on for a while, Hondurans just associate North
Americans with Santa Claus, making it difficult to form an
One of the turning points for my
family was when we got horses for my daughter about four
years ago. We knew nothing about taking care of
horses, and at first it was entertainment for our neighbors
to watch us struggle. I got kicked and thrown. The horses
got loose; we chased them all over the place. Then the
neighbors started helping us. All of a sudden, there was
this equality. They had something we needed; it changed the
What’s your advice to students
who might be considering a similar path?
Just don’t throw candy at
people. Require that people give something in
return for assistance. It preserves their dignity and helps
them value what you give.